Awareness week to draw attention to hunger, homelessness

Travis Perry

As November rolls around, many of us are preoccupied by thoughts of cooler weather, spending several hours digesting turkey and watching the NFL. But for many people and families in Topeka, with the winter comes an added dread of finding food, shelter and simply staying warm.

Directed by Erin Picolet of the Learning in the Community office and the Bonner Leaders, Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week’s goal is to draw attention to the fact that hunger and homelessness is a problem in Topeka and needs to be addressed. Picolet hopes the event will become an annual one at Washburn.

Let’s Help, a non-profit United Way agency serving Topeka and Shawnee county that helps low-income or homeless citizens, sees an average of 600 people per day file through their program to much needed food, clothing and shelter.

“It’s quite an eye-opener,” said Picolet. “I’m pretty aware of problems like this, and I didn’t know that Topeka had a homeless problem at all.”

In order to make the problem more visible to the public, different events will be put on every day this week for participants to learn more about the plight of the homeless and hungry people of the nation as well as ways participants can help.

Among these events will be the Faces of Homelessness, which will take place 7 p.m. Wednesday in Henderson Room 100. Representatives from the Topeka Rescue Mission will be there as well as several homeless residents of Topeka who choose to come and share their stories with the audience.

The Hunger Banquet, 6 p.m. Thursday in the Bradbury Thompson Center, is another big event for the program. Participants will be given a small-scale simulation of the hunger situation of many people in the world. Tickets are $5 or three canned goods.

Finally, Let’s Help will sponsor a brunch from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday where those who want to offer their services to the community can do so. Students participating will be able to count the service work toward at least a portion of the Transformational Experience.

Also, T-shirts will be sold in front of the Corner Store from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. all week with $5 of the price going toward Let’s Help.

Yet another goal of Picolet is to have Washburn host the National Student Campaign against Hunger and Homelessness in the near future. “It’s held on campuses because the youth are where the hope comes from,” said Picolet.